Whether it’s a snow day, school holiday, or you’re in the middle of the 2020 pandemic like we currently are, having a handful of kids activities on hand can be extremely helpful in keeping your little ones from climbing the walls. The TV, iPad, coloring books, and craft supplies only go so far when you’re cooped up for extended periods of time, leaving everyone feeling a little squirrelly. And if you’re simultaneously trying to work from home, you need independent activities for kids to rely on to allow you blocks of time in which your kids are engaged so you can navigate calls and important work tasks that require you to focus and concentrate. If you’re looking for independent activities for kids, we’re sharing 17 of our favorites below!
17 Independent Activities for Kids Who Are Stuck at Home
Cardboard marble run
This activity on Little Bins Little Hands is one of my favorite independent activities for kids as it requires children to exercise their planning and creativity skills, and the options really are endless. Your child can use painters tape and tape cardboard tubes to the wall, and it’s delightful to drop marbles down each tube and find out where they are going to land.
Osmo Genius Kit
While I like to find ways to get kids off their electronics, the Osmo system has really captured my heart. It teaches so many important concepts in a fun and creative way, and if you’re looking for independent activities for kids that challenge their problem-solving abilities, the Tangram game is one of my absolute favorites!
Shifu Plugo Count
This is a fabulous STEM gaming kit for kids that’s sure to be a hit with your little ones! Suitable for kids aged 5 to 10 years, this set turns your iPad in a hands-on learning system that takes your kids through story-based challenges they need to solve with a combination of numbers and arithmetic operations. This is a fun way to help kids build their auditory, visual, and tactile senses as well as their critical thinking, logical reasoning, and math skills!
If you’re stuck inside due to the weather – or if you’re in the midst of the 2020 pandemic quarantine – give your child some window markers and ask him or her to brighten up your view!
Dictionary scavenger hunt
If you’re looking for independent activities for kids that are educational, Hunter’s Teaching Tales has the perfect idea to give your kids extra practice with their dictionary skills. Grab your dictionary and keep this idea in your back pocket for snow days and school closures!
If you’re looking for independent activities for kids to do together, board games are another great option. Here are some of our favorites!
- Learning Resources Lil’ Lemonade Stand-Off. I’ve never met a Learning Resources game or toy that has disappointed me, and this game is no exception. It’s a memory building game designed for kids aged 5 and older, and while the premise of the game is simple enough for kids to grasp and play without adult supervision, the cards can be quite challenging, which is perfect if there’s a big age range between your children.
- Operation. This is a great game to help kids work on their fine motor skills! Players take turns removing wacky ailments from the game board using a set of tweezers, and have to be careful to remove each piece with precision so as not to set off the buzzer. This is an oldie but goodie your kids will love!
- Scrabble. Scrabble is a great game for kids who struggle with planning and organization. As the game progresses, they must strategize and anticipate how they can build their own words off of those already played by others. This is also a great game for kids who struggle with spelling and/or vocabulary!
- HedBanz. If your kids have never played HedBanz, they’re in for a REAL treat. This game is heaps of fun, and the question and answer premise behind this game will challenge their critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills. This is definitely high on my list of independent activities for kids, although we like to play it as a family!
- Stare! Junior. This game challenges kids’ memory, concentration, and imagination all at the same time. Players are given 30 seconds to stare at an image on a card, and then the card is flipped over and another player asks them a series of questions about the image to see how much they can remember. It’s heaps of fun!
[Electronic] Simon Says
If your child likes playing electronic games and you’re looking for tablet-free options, this is a great one to consider. To beat Simon in this game, players have to remember a pattern of colors and repeat it back to Simon in the correct order by pressing the colored buttons on the playset. The longer the child plays, the more complicated the patterns become!
Painting with water
This is one of my favorite independent activities for kids to enjoy in the summertime as it requires next to no setup, but always keeps my daughter occupied longer than I expect it to! Fill up a bucket with water, give your kids a set of different-sized paint brushes and let them ‘paint’ your driveway, patio, or balcony. This activity works best on really hot days as the water dries quickly, allowing them to create new masterpieces over and over again.
No list of independent activities for kids would be complete without Magformers. You’ve likely already heard of this set of magnetic tiles, but for those who aren’t in the know, this is a great set to build a child’s imagination skills through independent play. It also comes with an idea booklet to challenge little learners!
Remember 10 With Explorer Ben
This is a really fun working memory activity book that helps kids learn how to remember things through various memory games. Each spread of the book has 10 things that Ben must remember, as well as a tip to help the child remember the items for Ben. The following spread will test the child’s memory as 1-6 items will be missing. This book is a fun independent activity for kids to help improve their working memory skills.
If you want to get your kids interested in coding, this is a super cool toy to invest in! This friendship bracelet allows kids to connect with their friends via bluetooth, and they learn to write their own custom code to program their bracelet to light-up, buzz, etc. when their friends are near and/or for other functions.
How many differences can you find?
Have you ever completed one of those activities at the back of magazines where 2 seemingly identical photos are presented, and you have to identify what the subtle differences between the 2 are? I always love doing these with my daughter when we’re traveling, and you can buy complete books of these brain puzzles on Amazon! This one is good for younger kids, while this one is better suited to older kids and adults.
Journaling is often considered an adult thing to do, but kids of all ages can benefit from journal writing. Learning how to write our feelings out on paper can make a big difference in all of our lives, and teaching kids how to express themselves freely and work through their problems through their writing can be a very valuable life lesson. Guided journals offer an easy way to get kids used to the idea of journaling, and there are tons of different themes and ideas to choose from. Here are some of my favorites!
- Fill in journal. Not all kids are designed to write long-form journal entries, and that’s 100% okay! Whether your child is too young for a formal journal or has trouble focusing for long periods of time, Me: A Compendium might be just the kind of kid’s journal you’re looking for. It’s filled with a bunch of fill-in-the-blanks ranging from a child’s description of him- or herself to his or her likes and dislikes, and is designed to encourage creativity with space to draw pictures. Get your copy HERE.
- Draw and write journal. My daughter started keeping a draw and write journal when she was in first grade, and it was one of her most favorite things to do each day. The exercise was pretty open-ended, and the only ‘rule’ she had to follow was that she had to write a complete sentence each time she wrote in her journal. My daughter wasn’t much of a writer prior to grade 1, but by the time she reached grade 2, she was writing complete fiction stories, and creative writing is definitely on the list of her favorite independent activities.
- Scrapbook journal. If your child is artistically inclined, scrapbooking is a great activity to get them involved with as it provides a great creative outlet and gives them a place to collect and reflect over their best memories as they grow, which can be very calming and therapeutic. Beginners will probably need a scrapbook kit to get them going, but as your child gets older, let them choose a notebook and some gel pens, and then watch as they work with other materials already available to them at home.
- Writing prompts journal. Older children with big emotions and worries will benefit greatly from writing their thoughts in a blank notebook each day (consider buying your child a diary with a lock for added privacy), and if they have trouble coming up with things to say, this post has a month’s worth of writing prompts for kids to inspire you and your little one! You can go in order, or write each idea on a popsicle stick and create your own ‘journal prompts for kids’ jar your child can draw from each time he or she is stuck and doesn’t know what to write about.
Educational apps and websites
If you’re looking for independent activities for kids that will keep your children learning while they are out of school, there are tons of great options available for free (or for a small fee). From online story telling, to math and literacy games, to brain teasers and more, here is a list of our favorite educational apps and websites!
- Scholastic Education
- Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool
- Storyline Online
- PBS KIDS
- Highlights Kids
- Cool Math 4 Kids
- Turtle Diary
Draw with chalk
If the weather permits, let your child get creative on the driveway, patio, or balcony! There are tons of colors and styles to keep them busy for hours (we love our Glitter Sidewalk Chalk set!). Siblings can trace each other and then fill in their facial features and favorite clothes, create a game of hopscotch to play together, and just draw to their heart’s content.
If you need activities for high energy kids that don’t require a lot of set-up (and clean-up), a simple balance board is a great option to consider. It helps develop a child’s gross motor and balancing skills while also providing the physical release children need when they’re cooped up inside.
Fun with balloons
Blow up a few balloons and let your child hit them across the room, or take it a step further by setting up a game of indoor balloon volleyball between siblings. You can also grab a couple of rackets and organize a game of indoor balloon tennis. The possibilities really are endless!
I hope this collection of independent activities for kids proves useful to you!
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